A gentleman is gullible because of his righteous conduct.
Gradually, the noise around the field died down. The old monk from Damo Hall who sat behind Kong Zhi stood up and said, “We have agreed to the rules set by the heroes to govern our martial art competition today. Saber and spear, fists and legs, do not have eyes. Death will not be discussed further, alive and well will be the Heaven’s fate. Whichever school, sect, clan or society has the strongest martial art, will have control over Xie Xun and the Tulong Saber.”
Zhang Wuji frowned slightly. He thought, “It seems like this monk is afraid the battle will not be fierce enough, the enmity among schools will not be deep enough. Don’t they have mercy as displayed by Shen Seng like Kong Jian and Kong Wen anymore?”
The crowd further agreed that as soon as one had defeated two opponents in a row, one must be given an opportunity to rest. Other than that, there was not much difference than the previously agreed rule.
Immediately some people went down the field and called out their challenges, which were answered at once. A moment later, there were six people fighting in three pairs.
Zhao Min had learned the essence of each unique skill belonging to the Six Major Sects’ masters when she detained them in the Wan An Temple. Although her comprehension was still shallow, her knowledge and experience were not ordinary at all. Standing in between Zhang Wuji and Fan Yao, they discussed the martial arts of those six people. She made predictions on who would win and who would lose. Surprisingly, her analysis was very clear and logical.
About the time needed to drink a cup of tea later, among the three pairs, two had reached conclusion, and only one pair was still engaged in a fierce battle. Two more people immediately went down the field to challenge the victors. Hence, it was still six people fought in three pairs. The newcomers were using weapons, so their opponents also unsheathed their weapons. As the competition proceeded this way, it was only natural that eight or nine fights out of ten were decided with some shedding of blood.
Zhang Wuji mused, “This way, the friendship between each clan and sect will definitely suffer some damage. As soon as one school defeats another, although nobody loses his life or suffer injury, the loser will unavoidably try to retaliate in the future. I will be greatly surprised if this event will not breed an enormous disaster in which everybody kills each other.”
In the meantime, the Beggar Clan’s Zhi Fa Zhanglao’s palm hacked down on the short elder of Huashan Pai that the latter spurted blood from his mouth. The tall elder of Huashan Pai cursed, “Stinky Beggar! Rotten Beggar!” while jumping out to challenge the Beggar Clan’s Zhi Fa Zhanglao.
The short elder quickly grabbed his arm and said in low voice, “Shidi [younger martial brother], you are not his match. We’ll have to swallow this defeat for the time being.”
The tall elder angrily said, “I don’t care, I must fight him!” Although his mouth said those words, deep down in his heart he realized that his Shixiong’s [martial brother] martial art skill was comparable to his own; their energy cultivation was identical. If Shixiong was beaten, then he had no chance of victory. As he was being pulled by his senior, his mouth did not stop shouting abusive words, but his feet actually moved toward their wooden shelter.
After that, Zhi Fa Zhanglao scored another victory over the Sect Leader of the ‘Mei Hua Dao’ [Plum Blossom Blade]. Since he had defeated two people in a row, amidst the thunderous applause from the Beggar Clan crowd, he returned to their shelter, feeling very pleased with himself.
And thus, one come the other go, the competition in the field had been going on for more than four hours. The red glowing sun was slowly moving to the west. The martial art skill of the people going down into the battle was increasingly higher. At first, a lot of people were having lofty aspirations; their hearts were filled with desire to show off their skills in this general assembly of the world heroes. However after seeing other people’s martial art skills, and only then did they realize that they were no more than a frog in the well. Without ascending the Mount Tai, one would not know the vastness of the earth. Therefore, they did not dare to enter the competition.
By the ninth hour (between 3 to 5 pm), the Beggar Clan’s Zhang Bo Longtou entered the arena to challenge Peng Siniang [fourth lady Peng] of Xiang Si Pai Jiao [lit. ‘Four-Row Cult’(?) of Hunan province], which he struck until she tumbled down. The clothes on Siniang’s back were torn. It was such a big tear that she withdrew from the fight in her embarrassment.
Zhang Bo Longtou turned his eyes toward the Emei Pai people and with a cold laugh said, “What kind of real ability can womenfolk have? If they do not depend on their sharp weapons, then they would depend on strange secret projectiles. This lady Peng Siniang is able to train to this level, it truly is not easy.”
Zhou Zhiruo spoke in low voice to Song Qingshu. Song Qingshu nodded, and then unhurriedly went down the arena. He cupped his fists to Zhang Bo Longtou and said, “Longtou Dage; let me receive pointers from your masterful strikes.”
Zhang Bo Longtou was furious to see Song Qingshu. “The one surnamed Song,” he angrily shouted, “You are in collusion with that traitor Chen Youliang in penetrating our Beggar Clan. You, the traitor, must have played a part in the death of our Shi Bangzhu. Do you still have a face to see me today?”
Song Qingshu coldly replied, “Penetrating the enemy’s nest and stealing secrets are common occurrences in Jianghu. You only have your own bunch of blind beggars to blame that you failed to see Song Daye’s [‘big master’ Song] true identity.”
Zhang Bo Longtou cursed, “You are capable of betraying your own old man’s Wudang Pai; you are capable of doing anything. You are not being filial to your father, later you will not be faithful to your wife. Emei Pai will certainly meet its destruction in your hands.”
Song Qingshu was so angry that his face turned pale. “Are you done farting?” he said.
Zhang Bo Longtou did not respond. With a loud grunt his palm hacked down. Song Qingshu turned around to evade. His hand lightly swept backhandedly, using Emei Pai’s ‘Jin Ding Mian Zhang’ [lit. golden peak soft/supple palm] to parry the attack.
Zhang Bo Longtou was angry with Song Qingshu for penetrating the Beggar Clan and deceiving them, so his move was intended to kill; it was exceptionally fierce. Unfortunately, his opponent this time was not an ordinary martial artist. Within the Beggar Clan, Zhang Bo Longtou’s martial art skill was inferior only to their late Bangzhu, and Chuan Gong and Zhi Fa, two elders. His palm technique had reached an unordinary level.
Song Qingshu was chief among the Wudang Pai’s third generation disciples; but after all, his comprehension of Emei Pai’s ‘Jin Ding Mian Zhang’ was not deep enough. He had not yet able to unleash the full potential of exquisite and subtle variations within the palm technique. After fighting for about forty, fifty stances, he repeatedly fell into dangerous situations. Automatically his ‘Jin Ding Mian Zhang’ turned into Wudang Pai’s ‘Mian Zhang’ [cotton palm]. It was the martial art he was most familiar since his childhood. He had trained it for more than twenty years. He was able to launch this martial art at will; it was very powerful. The outward appearance was similar to Emei Pai’s ‘Jin Ding Mian Zhang’, but the method of transmitting energy to the moves was actually entirely different. The spectators did not know this fact. They only saw Song Qingshu gradually turned the situation over in his favor.